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New Zealand's finest cricketer is born
Sir Richard Hadlee, who was born today, is up there with any fast bowler in the history of the game. And until Muttiah Muralitharan came along, nobody had done as much in such a modest team. Hadlee's success owed as much to nurture as nature, and his mastery of every nuance of fast bowling was total. Of his 431 Test wickets, one performance stands out. The Kiwis had never won a Test - let alone respect - in Australia when, in Brisbane in 1985-86, Hadlee sliced them open with 9 for 52 in the first innings and 15 wickets in the match. Test cricket's second ten-for in an innings would have been Hadlee's - had he not taken a fine catch to give Vaughan Brown his first Test wicket. For its selflessness, Frank Keating described it as "the catch of the century". Hadlee could bat too, lustily and dangerously down the order, though he only made two hundreds in 86 Tests.
Whatever he does in his career, Harbhajan Singh, who was born today, will never top 11 extraordinary days in March 2001. With India 0-1 down to the all-conquering Australians, Harbhajan won the series almost on his own. He had some help from VVS Laxman and friends, but in bowling terms this was a one-man show unmatched in the modern era. Harbhajan took 32 wickets in the series. The next best, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, managed just three apiece. That haul included the first hat-trick by an Indian. His personal rivalry against the Australians has provided him both the highest and the lowest points of his career. He has been singularly responsible for Ricky Ponting's low scores on Indian soil, but in 2008 his confrontation with Andrew Symonds created one of the ugliest controversies in cricket - he was initially charged with racial insult which was reduced to abuse on appeal. Later that year he was banned for a whole IPL season for slapping Sreesanth. After Anil Kumble's retirement that year, Harbhajan was given charge of India's spin attack, but a loss in his form and the emergence of younger spinners on the circuit prompted the selectors to drop him after the tour of England in 2011.
One of cricket's truisms is that Gordon Greenidge was lethal on two legs... and deadly on one. At Lord's on this day he pummelled England to a nine-wicket defeat with a blistering 214 not out. England had declared to set West Indies 342 to win in 78 overs. They rampaged to victory in 66.1. The only wicket England got - and the first second-innings wicket West Indies had lost in seven Tests - was a run-out. Greenidge faced only 242 balls, in which time he belted 29 fours and two sixes. In Wisden Cricket Monthly, Scyld Berry wrote that "[Greenidge] made it look like a Sunday League romp at Southampton".
Another match-winning Caribbean masterclass - but this time from an Englishman. There was a whiff of West Indies about Alex Tudor's famous 99 not out against New Zealand at Edgbaston, as time after time he rocked back to cream boundaries through the covers. He spanked 21 fours in all - a startling 85% of his runs. The pantomime villain was Graham Thorpe, who dominated the strike as the last rites were played out and thus denied Tudor the chance to become the first English night-watchman to make a Test hundred. England got out of jail here - they had been 45 for 7 in their first innings, but a few hours later New Zealand were 52 for 8 in their second innings and the door was ajar. Nobody expected Tudor to batter it down - nor that Tudor would not play Test cricket for the next two years.
Birth of Joe Hardstaff Jr, the Nottinghamshire middle-order batsman who had a distinguished Test career despite losing his best years to the Second World War. He played 23 Tests and averaged a weighty 46.74. His signature moment was at The Oval in 1938, when he smacked 169 not out as England piled up 903 for 7 and walloped Australia by a record innings and 579 runs. His father Joseph also played five Tests for England. "Young Joe" died in Worksop in 1990.
After surviving a horrific injury on his Test debut, Ewen Chatfield, who was born today, established himself as a fine, honest foil for the talents of Richard Hadlee during New Zealand's run of success in the late seventies and early eighties. Against England in Auckland in 1974-75 - before the advent of helmets - Chatfield wore a bouncer from Peter Lever and ended up fracturing his skull. He also swallowed his tongue and, for a short time, Chatfield's heart stopped beating. His life was saved by the quick work of England's physio Bernard Thomas. Chatfield's strengths were discipline and economy - throughout his career he went at only 2.29 runs per over. His Test career was also notable for a couple of statistical anomalies: when New Zealand won he averaged 19, when they lost it was 58. And in the third innings of a match, Chatfield averaged 22. In the fourth that rocketed bizarrely to 73.
Birth of Wasim Raja, that rumbustious, hirsute allrounder for Pakistan in the 1970s and 80s. He was a wonderfully gifted left-handed dasher in the lower middle-order, at his best against West Indies. In 11 Tests he averaged 57, including 517 runs in five Tests in 1976-77. His skiddy, Afridi-esque legbreaks were good enough to snare 51 Test wickets, 33 of them outside Pakistan. His younger brother Ramiz, as straight-laced as Wasim was happy-go-lucky, also played 57 Tests for Pakistan, the same number as his brother. Wasim later married an English girl before becoming one of ICC's elite panel of match referees. He died in August 2006.
Birth of Zimbabwe's first black Test player. Henry Olonga's career was a mixed bag: he was no-balled for throwing on his debut, against Pakistan in Harare in 1994-95, but made important contributions to Zimbabwe's victories over India and Pakistan in 1998-99, including his only five-for against the Indians. At his best genuinely quick, Olonga was in no way the proverbial dumb fast bowler. He is erudite and charming, a devout Christian and blessed with an outstanding singing voice. He is also a cricketer in exile, after a black-armband protest - along with Andy Flower, he was bemoaning the "death of democracy" in Zimbabwe - during the 2003 World Cup that saw him relegated to the margins of his country's cricket.
The start of the only Test to be played at Sheffield's Bramall Lane ground. The match was blighted by appalling weather which kept attendances low, and Australia romped to a 143-run victory. Soon after, Yorkshire moved their power base to Leeds, and Bramall Lane was never again considered as a suitable venue for Test cricket. It staged its last first-class match in 1973. Apart from cricket, Bramall Lane was the venue for other sports, most notably as the home for Sheffield United FC. In 1895, it hosted the world's first floodlit football match.
Birth of Jack Newman, the New Zealand left-arm seamer who played three Tests in the thirties. He is best remembered as a rare cricket Sir, having been knighted in 1970. He died in his native Nelson in 1996, at a time when he was the oldest living Test cricketer.
Charlie Barnett, born today, played 20 Tests for England between 1933 and 1948. He was a punishing right-hander who scored a half-century in his maiden Test at The Oval. He got his first hundred in the 1936-37 Ashes Test in Adelaide when he opened the innings alongside Hedley Verity. Other than Australia, the only other country Barnett toured was India, where he fared rather poorly. In retirement, he ran a poultry and game business in Cirencester.
Birth of pioneering Test batsman Charles Bannerman. Against England in Melbourne in 1877, Bannerman faced the first ball in Test cricket, scored the first run, the first fifty and the first hundred. By the time he retired hurt with a damaged finger, he'd made 165 of Australia's total of 245, still the highest percentage of a completed innings in all Tests. His highest score in his two subsequent Tests was an unremarkable 30 - but his place in Test history is secure. His brother Alec, a famous stonewalling batsman, also played for Australia.
After 22 years of hurt, Derek Underwood finally made his first - and only - first-class hundred. It came for Kent against Sussex at Hastings - at the age of 39.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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